Jamaica Gleaner / PERRIS, California (AP):
A 17-year-old girl called police after escaping from her family’s home where she and her 12 brothers and sisters were locked up in filthy conditions, some so malnourished that officers at first believed they all were children, even though seven are adults.
The girl was so small that officers initially thought she was only 10. She called 911 and was met by police who interviewed her and then went to the family home in Perris, about 70 miles south-east of Los Angeles. They found several children shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks in dark, foul-smelling surroundings, according to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
The children, ages 2 to 29, “appeared to be malnourished and very dirty,” according to a news release announcing Sunday’s arrest of the parents. “The victims were provided with food and beverages after they claimed to be starving.”
David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, were each held on $9 million bail and could face charges including torture and child endangerment.
It was not immediately known if they had attorneys. They were scheduled to appear in court tomorrow.
State Department of Education records show the family home has the same address as Sandcastle Day School, where David Turpin is listed as principal. In the 2016-17 school year, it had an enrolment of six with one student each in the fifth, sixth, eighth, ninth, 10th, and 12th grades.
Neighbours in Perris, where modest but well-maintained homes are tightly packed on suburban streets, said they were stunned by the arrests. Andrew Santillan, who lives around the corner, heard about the case from a friend.
“I had no idea this was going on,” he told The Press-Enterprise newspaper of Riverside. “I didn’t know there were kids in the house.”